Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Laundry Memories, new and old.

As happy as I am with my laundry room re-do, I still sometimes skip outside and let old Mr. Sunshine dry the wash.
The nifty wire clothes rack from IKEA easily holds a full load of laundry, and even works for drying Cal King sized sheets one at a time. Best of all, the whole rack collapses flat and gets leaned up against the wall behind the laundry room curtain, taking up almost no space at all when it is not in use.
When the temperature soars it just seems silly to use electrical power to finish up the laundry task.  Plus it gives me an excuse to wander around the garden as I come out to check to see if the clothes are dry.
With 11% humidity, the clothes dry here almost as fast as they are washed.
I got to musing about laundry as I went about my task.
I remembered growing up three blocks from the beach, and my Mom hanging out laundry year around on a clothes drying device that looked like a squared spider web perched flat on a stick. 
The lines closest to the pole were hung first, while turning the entire web, then each line thereafter, hanging clothes until the finally the outside line was hung.
My Mom always used citrus soap since we had soft water.  Our clothes smelled so fresh and the whites were always so white.
She mentioned to me that those folks with driers and hard water had a hard time keeping their laundry from looking rather dull and gray.
She was right; I could see my classmates clothes become more dingy until they were finally outgrown.
In the summer, Mom would clip up the clothes early in the day (using clothes pins with springs; I never could figure out how clothes pegs work when I saw them later in life). Then she would take care of the usual household tasks while we kids hung out with our friends, waiting for ALL the neighborhood moms to finish up so we could go to the beach.
Usually we were at the beach by one, and stayed there until around four-ish, the time the moms needed to get back home to cook dinner.
Ironing was done in the cool of the evening while we watched TV.
Is it any wonder that in college I thought women who wanted to have a job outside the home were totally nuts?

When I got to college I did my own laundry for the first time.
Since I was going to school in Oregon, using a drier was part of the process.
I never did get the hang of doing laundry regularly; like many of my dorm mates, it was not too unusual to see me clad only in a bikini hauling my stuffed full pink gingham laundry bag down to the basement laundry room, even in the dead of winter. 

When there really is absolutely nothing clean left to wear, well, the bikini is called into service.
(I wasn't the only one thus attired.  College students need strong motivation to give up time and money for laundry needs.)

Laundry room fun with dark haired Jennifer, my future maid of honor, and her room mate/childhood friend Randi.
Isn't that what "set" tubs were for..."setting down" and relaxing while waiting for your laundry to be done?
Their room was just across the hall from my room; Jen was the first person to befriend me on campus.

Jennifer, Randi and Chuck. 
It was a co-ed by room dorm, Chuck and his room mate Lance were across the hall and one room down.
Maybe it was because in college the guys did their own laundry, and proved to me that anyone tall enough to reach the washer dials was quite capable of doing laundry. Both my son and daughter learned to do laundry by the time they were twelve years old.

When I married young, (right out of college!) Bernie and I got an apartment with a laundry room.  Funny, I really don't remember doing laundry at the apartment at all.  I do remember there was a large swimming pool and a sauna...I imagine we must have filled all the machines at once, gone for a swim, switched them to the driers and hit the sauna, which was co-ed and rarely used.
As newly weds, we were probably the sauna's most regular visitors.

The plan to live in the apartment for the first five years of our marriage fell apart after only ten months, when we discovered our first born was on the way.  The apartment complex was adult only; we would have to leave.
We found a very tiny house to rent, probably about 700 square feet, an old uninsulated bungalow with peeling faded paint, and an old carriage house garage out the back.  The garage was dark, and housed all sorts of scary spider and assorted other shudder producing creatures.
Bernie and his dad managed to plumb a spot for a washer; the water drained out onto the struggling lawn.  I know I had a clothes line there, but I also had a old gas operated drier as well.
Bernie re did the bathroom in the house, put up fencing so "the baby" could have a yard to play in some day.
We lived in that house until Laura was 9 months old. Bernie's parents had decided to purchase a new house and rent their old house out to us. 
Bernie had lived in that house since he was four years old; his brother was conceived and born in that house shortly there after.
Another generation was conceived there as well, when Laura was 11 months old, our son was on his way.
Laundry there was done out in the garage as well, but the garage was just two steps out the side door, and was quite handy.
There was an old fashioned clothes line there as well; with the demands of "two under two" the clothes line was mostly used to dry towel after swimming in the pool.
Bernie's sister had seven kids closely spaced; Bernie was still a teen when the oldest was born.  He remembered visiting his sister and being totally grossed out at finding diapers soaking in the toilet bowl whenever he would go over to visit.  It was he who decided that a diaper service would be used for our children, and so I was spared the years of washing diapers that others routinely dealt with with valor.
Jeff was four and Laura was five when we moved into the house where we lived until Jeff finished high school.
The washer/drier was again out in the garage; and to get there required walking down three steps, walking around the back of the house past my weaving studio, treading on old brick that skimmed past Camellia bushes that bloomed vigorously each winter.

(Me in 1985, age 31, toting yet another load of laundry..I can just  make out a pink camillia blooming  behind me.)
The one car garage was stuffed with "stuff" and one car was a tight fit, but there was room for not only the washer and drier but a set tub as well!
The house was built in 1945...just prior to WWII, and originally had but three bedrooms, one bath, a dining area the size of two modestly sized powder rooms and kitchen the same size at most bedroom closets...and I don't mean the walk in kind!
Some where along the way a larger eat in  kitchen had been added along with a very large upstairs bedroom with a tiny full bath.
It all added up to a lovely 1100 square feet.  Small, but not unusually so.  The large patio and garden became our family room and we spent much of our time outside.
There was a clothes line poles at the foot of the upper yard and some one had even made a cement pad beneath the line run.  Why we didn't string up some line I have no idea; instead we stung up a hammock and enjoyed that while our clothes tumbled away in the garage.
There were black widows in the garage I should note.  I kept a can of insect killing spray handy at all times...

Once we left there I gained "modern" laundry "rooms": pass through areas between the garage and the kitchen,  pantry like areas in the kitchen and now I have a full blown entire room designated to laundry.
I must say I really, really, really like my laundry room now.
Just like it was back in the days...
Occasionally there are still...

Spiders in my laundry room!!!
You know, throughout history women did laundry together, gathering either down by the river or the lake's edge, and with their skirts tied up and sleeves rolled up the women would suds out the clothes while talking and sharing their lives side by side.
Men never seemed to do laundry, even in times of war women would be camp followers and earn a living by doing laundry. 
I think that loss of womanly camaraderie is the only down side to our modern laundry methods.  I imagine that women still do most of the laundry and do the task regularly and totally alone. 
My short times of college laundry being a time of hi jinx with dorm mates was probably the only time that I have ever done laundry with friends, and actually it made doing laundry a lot of fun.

Pretend that you have dropped by with a load of wash; we've hung our laundry out to dry and now are relaxing in the Adirondack chairs, listening to the stream rushing below, watching birds and butterflies flutter over head and enjoying a cold glass of herbed lemonade.

What laundry memories have you recalled after reading about mine?  How was laundry done at your house as a child? As a young bride, a mother, an empty nester?

Do is a simple way for us to share in doing a bit of laundry together.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Modeled by the Bride

She has been racing around getting stuff done and was tackling the housework when I dropped the hat off.
If only I could look that great while doing housework on a hot day....

See prior post for details on the hat...

A bride in the neighborhood

It was a lovely weekend here.  I spent most of it making a bridal head piece for a neighbor. 

Here's the back story on how that activity came to be:

Last summer a neighbor hosted a neighborhood potluck block party.
It was the first time I had met a lot of my neighbors and found them to be a really great group of people.
The young "hostess" introduced me to her children and her fiance, (a really nice guy) and said they were going to get married the next summer.

We got chatting about hats (the party was outside, and hats were to be seen) and I mentioned my collection of hats.  Later on we ambled over to my house so she could see the hats.  Turned out she was one of those people who looks terrific in any style of hat...she had a "hat friendly face".

Picture the girl who plays the violin in the group Celtic Women, and you now know exactly what she looks like.

"Next summer" has now rolled around.  My neighbor is getting married next weekend, and last week she dropped by to ask if I could help her figure out something to wear on her head for the event.

Her dress is an ivory satin fitted gown, with a square neckline and somewhat broad straps.
The wedding will be up in the mountains, outside.

She is very relaxed about the event (she has been married before, but this is his first marriage) and said she wanted something "funky" for a head piece.
I took her into my hat room and after trying on various hats and bits, she decided she liked the look of the three minute rose (picture above) that I had made several years ago and how it looked atop dotted veiling.
It could be made up in ivory of course...
I sent her off to buy ribbon and order the veiling.  A couple of days later she called and said she had the ribbon and veiling.
She and another neighbor sat and watched me start in on the project.
(I quickly discovered I was very self conscious having someone watching me knot thread after licking my finger...and that I had to keep shifting my glasses on and off to see what I was doing.)

The making the twisted satin ribbon rose part was easy.
The edge trim took a couple of tries.
The stamen...well...I had to rethink how I placed it.
The veiling...veiling done birdcage style is so tricky.  She wanted it just at nose tip, and if the "billow" doesn't happen just right, a bird cage veil will brush against the nose tip and drive a bride crazy with the tickle.

I figured I would make up the head piece in two or three hours.  
(It wound up being closer to eight...or was it nine? just on the sewing time.)

So here is the final edition of the "funky" bridal head piece: 

As usual, I fretted about the hat overnight.
The original version looked like this:

She had selected several kinds of ribbon for the ruffled edge: a white sheer ribbon with white pearl edging that didn't suit as it was just too white.
She also had a white striped ribbon; I had the same ribbon in ivory so I had to give it a try.
It looked really nice, but I feared it was a bit too fussy looking for her elegant satin dress.

Plus I felt the dots and stripped and ruffles just made the piece too busy against the fluid feeling of her dress design.
And for some crazy reason I "forgot" that stamen doesn't pop up out of the flower center like that.
Now the whole time I am working on this piece I am mentally flipping between "oh this looks so home made" and "oh everyone is going to just flip when they see this and (Walter Mitty like) I will suddenly be the most in demand bridal head piece maker in America".

Now I just hope people will simply think the hat works with the dress and think that she looks lovely.

I've had two reviews so far:
Bernie thinks it looks great.

Tate LOVED it!

I had pulled out the stuff needed to photograph the hat and Tate showed up out of the blue.

Tate loves model Jane has orangish hair.
Tate is clearly smittened.

Kitty kisses for the bride! looks like a flower but doesn't smell like a flower...

Whoa whoa WHOA!
At that point Tate had to break up with Jane.
I tossed him out of the room.
The brief romance was over.

I won't be attending the wedding; we will be at Gail's daughter's wedding in Colorado as my neighbor's wedding occurs.
If I can, I try to get a picture and show you how she looked!